Skip to main content
1:00 pm
department head in the city and county of san francisco. we have learned since 2010 that we need to meet and get to know the folks that we will need to rely on in an emergency. we all know in a disaster we can't do this by ourselves. we are going to rely very heavily on our military partners. generally maya saw in 2010 that having a big party for fleet week was great, but we needed to do something more. and it was under his inspiration and leadership that we began the humanitarian assistance disaster response program. so, it's really building these relationships over the years, continuing to grow, and going from the one week event that we started with for fleet week into something that we're doing all year round. so, i'd like to thank especially my staff, rob, diana, all the people who have been working on this day and night. right now this week it's fleet week every day, every second,
1:01 pm
every minute. but next week it will be fleet week for us again starting for 2013. so, thank you very much. (applause) >> thank you. it's true, the planning cycle for fleet week is really year round. and we have programs going on year round as well with the exercises and lectures and various ways to connect all of our parks. so, i think bottom line is we want you to come down to pier 80 where all the ships will be docked with the exception of the uss macon island coming in at piers 32. where we'll have the senior leader seminar. if you're interested in coming and observing that program, it's very interesting. thursday we have a series of panels and keynote speakers including the united states navy surgeon general. on friday we have former secretary of defense perry who will be speaking. and on friday, as is tradition, since we saw the program, we invite the neighborhood volunteers, the nerts volunteers, people who volunteer their time to learn
1:02 pm
how to save their neighbors. so, we bring them on board and include them in the program. they get a nice tour of the ship. we feed them a will youctionvv of. fleet week always has a luncheon attached to it. i think everybody will remain, if you have any questions, want to talk to anybody more about the fleet week program, thank you very much, mayor lee. thank you, city and county of san francisco. and thank you all for coming out. (applause)
1:03 pm
... >> good afternoon. let's call want september 25th meeting of the public utilities to order. roll call. commissioner courtney. >> here. commissioner caen is on her way. >> thank you. commissioners we have the minutes from the september 11th meeting.
1:04 pm
any additions or corrections? >> moved. >> seconded. >> moved and seconded. all in favor, aye. >> the item carries. this is the time that if anyone has items to discuss with the commission that it's under the commission's jurisdiction, this would be the time for it. i understand we do have a comment from mr. lee. >> hi, my name is tony lee, i am speaking on behalf of my parents, their property owner to market street, at 16th street. they had a tenant that apparently wasn't paying their water bill, and i guess out of policy, the sfpuc sends a notice of any kind, which is a lien notice five months after bills have already incurred. so the first time that a
1:05 pm
property owner, my parent's english is very limited. i helped them, so the first time my parents even heard there was a problem was five months on or after usage already occurred. so, we know after my parents heard, they started the eviction process. so 11 months later, my parents who didn't use a drop of the water is having to pay $9,000 plus, so, i understand the concept of making the property owner pay for things, but the question that i have is, why does a notice have to be sent out only five months later? and so i ask this question, i have written a bunch of letters. the first was support to marge
1:06 pm
viscara and basically the statement was, no criticism to them, but they're just following policies. that this is allowed. we didn't violate policies therefore you owe this money. my thing is the policy then, i think there's, you know, it's questionable. whether you're a private business or you're a public agency, whatever it might be, let's say a postcard could be sent out after the first bill is generated, the tenant doesn't pay for 15 days or whatever, a notice is sent to the property owner, especially if that property owner is going to be held responsible. at this time, we at a bottle neck. my parents, they are on a fixed income, they are retired. they are in their 70's. i think this affects a lot of
1:07 pm
different property owners. i would like to find out the alternatives we have to address this particular situation which is a hardship to my parents. >> thank you. i understand your issue. and i also understand i think what you have been told by staff this is basically the procedure and that debt is due. but i think your question goes beyond that. it goes to is this a reasonable way to do business. >> right. >> i won't put the staff on the spot at the moment, but i think it's worth a response to the commission. number one, is this a common problem and what are the options we have. i understand that would be a rude surprise. >> right, i guess the policy is after two months of full cycles,
1:08 pm
they wait 15 days after that. by the time the landlord gets it, it's a full solid five months. and, so that's one thing. initially, i looked at the california public utility commission rules and things like that too, although i understand san francisco and the water department has its own way of operating and the ability and authority to do so, their policy was to not allow -- that if it's going to be, if a property owner is going to be liened to have the property owner notifyd and put in a public, have it notified in a public circulation and thanks like that. you can't put it on the property tax rule. they do that because they understand the department's need, certain powers, there has
1:09 pm
to be balance and equity among certain groups. i guess the water department is able to put this on the property tax role too. without getting into details because i know my time is limited. there's a lot of things i'm uncovering. this just seemed quite unfair. it tilts the balance of fairness away from the property owners who are semi-innocent in this situation. >> your point is clear and we will take a look at that and get a report back. >> should i have -- i have the stuff you sent. would there be any help in me submitting this or no? >> yes, if you could give that to todd. >> okay. all right. thank you very much, appreciate your time. >> is there an appeal process for these kinds of issues?
1:10 pm
>> we do have todd, the assistant general services c.f.o. this is a commercial account as i recall it. so it goes through the standard procedure, and we are on a bimonthly billing cycle. we have a delinquency notice process followed by a lien process if the account is not cleared. in this case, i can assure you, we looked at the procedures, but it does raise some questions. i think one thing that will help landlords in the future is our movement to monthly billing cycles as part of our new a.m.i. program. otherwise, absent property owners including utility costs as part of monthly rent, the
1:11 pm
account holder information is the renter's rights. we are held to the privacy rights. >> this is a commercial tenant? yes, this is a commercial tenant. >> noreen, city attorney's office. while this is on public comment and not on the agenda, we can agendize, but we're not supposed to engage in discussion because other people that might be interested in this subject don't have advance notice. if we can follow up at the next meeting. >> i wasn't talking about the specific case. i was using it as an analogy. >> before commissioner courtney engaged in further dialogue, i was just alerting him we are not supposed to be dialoguing. >> my question was more about the process.
1:12 pm
i just wanted to know is there an appeal process. you indicated there isn't for commercial tenants? >> no, we exhausted this already >> if the purpose of engaging in further dialogue. my question would be -- does this commission have the authority to grant jurisdiction to the residential appeal's board specifically for the purpose of hearing appeal such as the one that's pending? do we have that authority? >> um, you have the authority to set policy with respect to this matter. when we bring it back to you, we can outline what those options are. is that okay? >> okay.
1:13 pm
>> so, i just want to be clear on what the next step is, which is we're going to review the policy at a subsequent meeting and it will be agendized appropriately to delegate that and review the policy. >> and see whatever -- what, if any adjustment to that would be appropriate and doable. >> if i may. we will actually examine the account. make recommendations and i think todd mentioned some of the recommendations about going from bimonthly to monthly. we will talk about the noticing process, and we will see how many other accounts suffer the same consequences. we will come back with a recommendation. >> thank you for those first official comments -- >> welcome aboard. >> i was waiting to dive in.
1:14 pm
yeah. [laughter] >> and they were wise and welcome, sir. >> okay. thank you very much. ms. jackson. i believe you wanted to speak. >> she looks awfully nice today. >> especially for you, sweetheart. [laughter] >> espinolda jackson. i am representing the black human rights council of san francisco. i came today in order to congratulate the three commissioners that were reappointed. i am so happy because i have talked to some of the supervisors prior to the fact that you all knew what was going on especially in my community. and that's your skirt.
1:15 pm
made the honest point. i'm so happy you all was reappointed because you know the concerns of the community and also came to congratulate the new mr. harlan kelly. i would like to say to you, mr. kelly, i know you have some shoes to follow. big shoes to follow. and i am looking to be working with you and also the organization that i represent. as well as we are going to work with all of you commissioners. but i wanted to just say thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything that you have been involved in with my community. because most people they never listen. but you all have listened. this body has listened and i want to thank you again. so congratulations and you will be invited to come to one of our meetings where we will be putting you on the spot at that time. thank you very much.
1:16 pm
>> thank you for a fair warning. ms. smith. >> good afternoon. i am diane westly smith. i just want to echo ms. jackson's words. she told me a lot about the history of the p.c. and your involvement in our community. i want to thank you, and i wanted to congratulate the commissioners that were reappointed and congratulate the new general manager, mr. harlan kelly. i knew it was going to happen. i really look forward to your involvement as a commissioner and your continued involvement and expanding your involvement in our community because you do listen. i have seen it. i was living there when you began your work when the work started on the first treatment plants.
1:17 pm
anyway again, congra congratulations. >> thank you. any other public comment? >> okay. thank you. moving on to communications. commissioners, any comments or questions on the communications you have in front of you? i just have two brief ones. the advance calendar shows we have put over the rate fairness policy or the, what are we calling it? the rate payer assurance policy. in order that the cac can have an opportunity to look at that and make their own comments. i have seen some of the other comments that have come in. i think they are constructive and useful. terence and i had a brief discussion earlier that i have asked him and the cac to see if
1:18 pm
there's a way we can reschedule things so that when something is referred from the commission to the cac it doesn't take a whole month to cycle back to us. that's a scheduling and coordination issue. i have asked them to take a look at that. i do look forward to the comments. the other comments, the letter we sent to m.i.d. at the end of the negotiations for the water transfer, i think there's a cautionary tale there and it is that all of these transactions, even the ones that were really simple, aren't. and to beware of anybody who says that you can just get your water some place else. it is never that easy. it's never that simple. where you have 2200 acre foot transfer, has drawn that kind of opposition. i think there's a lesson we need
1:19 pm
to be mindful of. any other thought or comments on communications. any public testimony on the communications? moving on to other commission business. madam secretary, would you call that item. >> item 6. discussion of san francisco public utilities rules of order. >> okay. thank you. this is an item when i first took the gavel a year ago, i started talking to noreen and the general manager about just kind of repairs that we should make. a couple areas where it got out of sync with current law. one thing i know that has dragged on. i wanted to get it back before i left office. what you, what was distributed to you, we are not going to act on today. there's a requirement two week's
1:20 pm
notice before any change. this will come back at our next meeting for action. the changes in the red line strike out copy you have, so it takes the order of business and amends it to our current order business. one place where it has substance to it is the amount of notice we give for water rate changes. it actually shortens the time in the process making it winter with the board of supervisors policy. if we wanted to retain the older, longer time line, we certainly could choose to do that. couple comments. one of the reasons this hasn't come back sooner is because i haven't, just in being chair, i haven't noticed anything that wasn't there that i wished was. i don't think there needs to be
1:21 pm
something that needs to be fixed. our rules of order of very brief. they do not reference and are no bound by robert shules of order, you have a motion and a second. if it's been agendized, we cannot act on it until it has been seconded. some commissioners have referenced them. we do not, what it comes down to, your chair as the authority to rule on points of order. and that is subject to you know, an appeal by any member of the commission and on a majority vote of the commission you can
1:22 pm
overrule your chair. it gives procedural protection anybody could hope for without inviting the complexity. i'm not recommending it be there. it's a little bit odd perhaps it isn't, but i think works. >> didn't you put it in? >> no. >> i thought i read there has to be a motion and a second. >> i haven't see the we will conduct our business according to the robert shules point of business. there was a point of confusion. there's nothing that calls for more than a simple majority vote. so if and under roberts again, if you wanted to limit, it would take a two-thirds vote, in our
1:23 pm
case, three out of five so it's a 60% vote. we do say that in order to maintain a quorum that commissioners should not leave the meeting without permission of the chair. that's important. and that basically you vote unless you're excused by the commission. one thing where our life has changed. we now have a lot of electronic stuff. we have ipads and there's no use to restrict their use during the meeting. the board of supervisors have wrestled with this and decided not to impose a particular rule. it's something we need to be sensitive to. there are ways in which they can be abused and we need to be careful not to. i guess there are, if there's an
1:24 pm
incentive. there's a legal query. they can be discoverable if they were taking place during a meeting. so -- >> discoverable period. irrespective of a meeting or not. >> aren't they discoverable period? >> noreen ambrose, city attorney's office. if these are personal communications on your personal devices that they would not be public records and therefore on that basis, they would not be discoverable. but, the cautionary advice that the city attorney has given. the line between personal and public record is not very clear in the law, and that the biggest
1:25 pm
concern i think is that if you e-mail something or texted something that had to do with business, it can be forwarded to more of a quorum by the commission not necessary by you but by someone else. that would incur a meeting that would be in violation of the brown act. there are protocols about how you communicate about the commission's business to ensure those communications are not extended to other commissioners, that's one of the things that, in the good government guide, the city attorney has recommended the commissions grapple with this issue and think about having policies about e-mail, texting and communications because of their ability to be easily forwarded by other individuals. does that answer your question?
1:26 pm
>> i am going to request from our attorney any information related to what we just kind of flushed out. the forwarding. because if someone is not acting with our agency, then i don't think they can attend a meeting for us. so i'm real curious about the priority. we're all engaging in those electronic communications. that's something that piqued my interest. >> i just said -- i would recommend we have a conversation about that because it seems highly unusual to me that a third party can somehow without our knowledge, create liability under the sunshine ordinance and put us into a meeting together. but i understand why we would want to avoid that outcome, i'm
1:27 pm
requesting that specific information so that we can have the liberty of reviewing. >> i would be happy to provide the background on the meeting and what risks and measures you can take to prevent that by putting something specifically in your communication that says this is not to be disclosed. that would go to the intent issue. >> commissioner courtney raised a good point. the siriata meeting applies to us and not the public. if the public wants to send something to all five of us, that's legal. if something they send to all five of us that originated from us -- >> we would argue it was your intent it wasn't distributed and you weren't communicating how you wanted a particular subject matter to be voted on et cetera.
1:28 pm
>> i think, commissioner, that guidance is appropriate and is welcome. i think on a lot of this stuff, i don't know there are rule that is necessarily come out of this. but the discussion is important. being conscious of the issue. we're supposed to do our business in public. if we were getting text messages saying, ask this question or vote this way, that would be inappropriate. i don't know that we need rules for that. we just need to be smart and aware. >> are we under knox-teen jurisdiction? >> no, we're under the brown act that's different than the brown act and public disclosure >> it's a subject matter the city attorney addressed with other commissions and i would be happy to provide the guidance.
1:29 pm
it's of course an evolving field. the attorney general is often asked to look into these questions and review them through the brown act. so we'll try and stay abreast of that. >> i think commissioner courtney's comments are more than appropriate because it's much more manageable with this size of a commission. the stem cell governing board is 29 members. this has to be constantly over sighted and it's a nightmare. >> there's a different ex-party communication rule that's not applicable here to >> correct. >> commissioner caen. >> i have one issue that i don't believe goes into a rules of order but does bother me. maybe it rests with the board of supervisors. but as you all know, our terms are up august 1st. and that's when the board of supervisors goes on